Tales. Grandma Meg told me her version when I was young. For a while i believed she was my Mum and she was in many ways. She took care of me; she took care of our family. She had eyes everywhere; the farm, the home, the herd… She went to school, adult education, masomo ya gumbaru they call it in Swahili. She had her reasons; not to embarrass her linguistic son when visitors came by. That would be my father; he, the Englishman. He was, still is known that way at the native lands.
Meg saw the future; she was convinced none of her grandchildren was ever going to get a spouse from the locality, she had to learn English, to tell the great grandchildren tales, she said. She was always funny, she approached basic things, or what seemed basic with such a sense of humor. Like when she held the daily newspapers right to her face, and attempted to read out loud, in attempt to give testimony of her effort in school. She was strong, she did that, and still took cattle to graze, milked them, made tea and served us, with sweet bananas. Funny, or not; the night she passed on, Easter Friday 2004, she gave everyone a banana. She pulled out a bunch of ripe bananas from her store and one after the other plucked a piece and handed to everyone around. I was away, stuck in post semester fun after second year exams. She asked mum to keep my banana till I came by. That night, after the Good Friday fun, Meg suffered a heart attack, it was too late. She is resting in peace.
Meg was dear to me, and I was dear to her. She called me her husband. I was named after him; a tough little man with a heavy sense of authority and society stature. He was old too, and suffered from hearing impairment. He was born in 1878. I never saw him; he passed on a decade before I was born. Grandma made farm life a true experience. When I was in high school, tales from ‘Looking For a rain God’ were real; they were relative to many she told me and my cousins. It was always a gathering of likes every now and then. After dinner, we sat under an avocado tree, with Grandma in front of us. She distributed bananas, after which she assumed her chair, she had her chair. She then told tales, or made us repeat tales she had told before. I listened; sometimes I just slept on the grass, and looked up the sky. Is it just me or was the moon brighter when we were younger? I stared at the moon move, wondered whether it would collide with the stars. Childhood; the wonder. Still, I saw beyond the fading clouds, the bright moon and shining stars. I saw, I constructed a future. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to be, but I knew it was something to do with art, and writing, or talking. Funny, I don’t quite do anything with those. I stopped drawing a while back; I write sometimes, many tales never make it here though. I talk, when I negotiate something, or debate about something else. Mostly I talk when I am tipsy, tales with you, and you and that other one. I should draw something soon, maybe paint too.
Meg believed in me to somewhat outrageous levels. Really, the words she described me with would shock someone from my past who pretty much thought the least of me. Not to worry though, folks who think highly of themselves have no time to establish what others think of them. Meg, she insisted on books, for most of the time, I have sat through exams just to satisfy her interest. Really, I tend to believe whatever you learn in school can still be learnt away from a four corner classroom. Meg used to say my father was the bench mark, he held a master degree then. So I was bound to become a professor. Sigh, just to confuse her enemies. Anyway, she’d be happy I have a graduation tomorrow, on my path there. She taught me how to mold a hat and no, not for a toy. We experienced heavy rainfall at the farm periodically. Our farm happens to be at a mountain slope. Her hut would erode and as such we had to rebuild often. She taught me that; and it was never strange making use of mud, and touching cow dung. I was fascinated at the site of smelly cow dung making a smooth finishing to grandmas kitchen. And yes, she refused it being made concrete. She said dad was making everything western on the farm; she just wanted her little kitchen left, with the three stones; the stones from which she also taught me the art of roasting maize. Yes, you haven’t tasted my version of mahindi choma. It was painful undertaking that exercise, wonder what Meg would say with my sorry eyes today. Meg was that and a whole lot more.
She was a medicine woman too. She never believed much in western medicine. Well, until she got a terrible bout of Typhoid years back. She embraced painkillers; Action and Mara Moja. She popped those pills like her next hour of life depended on them. Not surprising, her autopsy showed excessive intake on those things. It worries my Mum today; for the last 352 days I have taken pain killers every single day. Pain, headaches, eye aches, sometimes joint aches. Al Shabaab, No Comment. But the story about Grandma Meg and herbs; she gave me some herbs when I was a teenager. At thirteen, she spotted me with a girl in the neighborhood. When I came by her house to see her, she gave me some herbs, and told me tales about men, and women. I was tongue tied the entire evening. When she finished, I told her I was thirteen and didn’t need to know that stuff. She told me you’ll thank me later. Aphrodisiacs. Allow me to use ‘SMH’.🙂 and yeah, Thank you ha!
She; Meg is perhaps the one person who looked forward the most to me settling down(why do they call it that?). She wanted to know the girl I dated in college. I was just 19 then. She spoke of my generation even before I knew what heartbreak was. I felt it was an honor going to her funeral with my then girlfriend. Sad, she broke my heart thereafter but not as much as another one did, yes that one. Oh, and I broke a few too. But I found another girl, a girl I had found a while ago. I will talk about her later…or maybe now, just a little bit. The girl I’ve known the longest in my love life; it will be a decade next year since I first saw her. Meg will be pleased to know that I am ‘crossing a river‘ in months; possibly months you can count with fingers on your single hand. So Meg, I just have two more debts with you; grandchildren and that damn PhD. Rest well, as you can see, I am busy.
Till then, Cheers!